Wednesday, December 11, 2013

N.W.O.B.H.M Wednesday: E.F. Band

Like so many other fans of the N.W.O.B.H.M. movement my first taste of E.F. Band was thanks to their contribution to the first "Metal For Muthas" compilation with the brilliant track "Fighting for Rock 'n' Roll". That was many moons ago (when I first secured a copy of the 1980 N.W.O.B.H.M. sampler on CD), but it was just recently that a copy of the group's comprehensive 2003 compilation "Their Finest Hour" fell into my lap. Thanks to that 2CD set, which includes a brief history lesson the band as well as a few photos and extensive liner notes, I was able to fully experience and then appreciate everything that this Swedish-born band had to offer the N.W.O.B.H.M. scene. Formed around 1979 or so out of the ashes of progressive jazz-rock band Epizootic, who released one (extremely limited and now highly collectible) self-titled LP, the band took it's name from it's two founding members, Pär Ericsson (vocals/bass) and Bengt Fischer (guitars). Initially they were known as (the) Ericsson Fischer Band, but after shortening their name (and relocating from their home-country to Britain in 1979) they were soon on their way to becoming early members of the N.W.O.B.H.M. club. Early on the band was rounded out by drummer Dave Dufort (known for playing with Mike Oldfireld and Screaming Lord Sutch) and with that line-up in place two 7" singles were released (1979's "Self Made Suicide" and 1980's "Devils Eye" which both appear on "Their Finest Hour"). Also in 1979 another 7" single was released in the form of "Night Angel", but that release featured a drummer credited as simply "Johnsson" and it saw an outside label mesh with the band's arrangements. As such it doesn't appear on the band's 2CD anthology compilation, but chances are it's not a selection that would be missed. Anyway, by the time the group entered the studio to record their 1981 debut album, "The Last Laugh Is On You", Dave Dufort had left the band to join Angel Witch and a new drummer was needed. In came Dag Eliason who would remain behind the drum kit for the duration of E.F. Band's existence. His playing would anchor a band that, sound-wise on album number one, was part 70's rock, part boogie, part blues rock and a whole lot of hard rockin' fun! The band's debut album is somewhat similar to the music of  Ethyl The Frog (although much more free-spirited overall!) and thanks to it's respectable reception in the press (and no doubt their previous contribution to "Metal For Muthas") the band would get the opportunity to tour with Richie Blackmore's Rainbow! Arguably the best cuts on the band's debut album would have to be the title track, "Kids" and  "Anything for You". All three cuts showcase E.F. Band's distinct sound while offering slightly different takes on hard rock. As far as debut album's goes "The Last Laugh Is On You" is most certainly an overlooked affair, but seeing as it is featured prominently on this collection there's still plenty of time to discover this charming collection of heavy rockers! On we go must so we turn our attention to album number two, 1982's so-so "Deep Cut". By this point the band had decided it was time to expand a bit and John Rich (Picture, Hot Property) soon joined the group as lead vocalist. "Deep Cut" isn't a bad album all in all as there are some saving grace moments such as a cool cover of Girl's "Love Is a Game", "Child Of Innocence", "Is Anyone There",  "Tonight's Alright", "Big Talker" and "Trinity". John Rich didn't last all that long though as he would eventually be replaced by Roger Marin (Deep Machine, Angel Witch, Nevadda Foxx, Bordello,Kamikaze ). With Roger Martin on lead vocals and the addition of a talented second guitarist by the name of Anders Allhage the group would release their third and final album, "One Night Stand", in 1985. Album number three opened strong with the worthy "Gimme Just a Little Rock 'n' Roll" and showcased a band that had (seemingly) found the right line-up needed to put them over the top. So, what happened then? Well, Anders Allhage (aka: Andy LaRocque) leaving the band for King Diamond didn't help matters much and then there was apparently some in-fighting going on and a few issues with records labels. About one year after the release of "One Night Stand" it was all over. Unfortunately it seems as if a black cloud formed over E.F. Band after their break-up. First founding member Bengt Fischer tragically died of cancer on the 5th of April 2001 and then John Ridge (who sang on the group's 1982 album "Deep Cut") also died of cancer in March of 2003. What's even more sad is the fact that the 2003 compilation features the 2001 track "Remember You" (which was written, engineered, produced and performed by John himself as a tribute to Bengt Fischer) and John died before "Their Finest Hours" was ever released! How awful is that? Still, "Their Finest Hours" is dedicated to Fischer's memory and all proceeds from the sales of the 2CD set went towards The Cancer Fund in Sweden so his death (and John's) will never be forgotten. Despite not having the same name recognition as many of their N.W.O.B.H.M. cohorts this is one band that deserves a special place of honor in the collections of N.W.O.B.H.M. fans. If all you know about E.F. Band is their "Metal For Muthas" track then "Their Finest Hours" is really the way to go. It can usually be found on Amazon and Ebay and it's not all that bad price-wise. It collects their three albums, singles, live cuts and some unreleased material. With 17 tracks on the 1st CD and 18 tracks on the 2nd CD it is a well-rounded compilation for a band that had more to offer then just "Fighting for Rock 'n' Roll"!

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